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October 15, 2004

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Debate Liveblogging, Round Fo--oh Wait.

I caught the tail end of the debates last night on an airport TV screen, trying to discern the political orientations of those around me from their facial expressions. Everyone just looked mad.

From what I could tell, the big gaffe out of the debate was forecasted to be Bush’s “I never said I wasn’t worried about Osama” line, which pundits predicted would drench the airwaves tomorrow, juxtaposed with some video of that one time he said he wasn’t worried about Osama.

Wrong. The Fran-Drescher-esque drones of CNN Headline News today focused their incessant banter on a different “story” out of yesterday’s debate — Kerry had the utter gall to identify Dick Cheney’s daughter as a lesbian.

It’s not that Kerry just blurted this out of the blue; he’d been asked whether he thought homosexuality was a choice. This was his response:

We’re all God’s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as.

It’s not that Mary Cheney isn’t out and proud.

It’s not that Kerry’s answer contained even a tinge of disrespect for Mary Cheney.

It’s that a savvy Bush campaign adviser realized that the Osama thing was going to be all over the news today and selected his own brilliant little dodge. The entire Cheney family (except for Mary) was out in full force today, shocked, SHOCKED!! that Kerry could have mentioned their daughter to “score political points.”

Lynn Cheney:

I did have a chance to assess John Kerry once more. And the only thing I could conclude is this is not a good man. This is not a good man. And, of course, I am speaking as a mom and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick.

Father Cheney:

You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected. And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father. But I’m also speaking as a citizen.

Even other-daughter Liz was trotted out on Paula Zahn to share her family’s suffering, poor wounded lamb.

Feel free to look at Kerry’s statement one more time.

The media bought this???! News directors/editors everywhere actually swallowed the notion that a campaign run by Karl “No Smear’s Too Queer” Rove was outraged that an opposing candidate had affirmingly mentioned the sexuality of a profoundly public lesbian?? We’ve lost our marbles.

The only logical way to interpret Kerry’s statement as any sort of a swipe at Mary Cheney is to grant that homosexuality is tainted. Andrew Sullivan can take it from there.

Color me disgusted. Not at the Bush/Cheney campaign — all’s fair in love and politics — but at the journalists who swallowed, digested, and shat this sham into our diet of news.

Posted October 15, 2004 at 12:57 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Election 2004


Wrong interpretation! It's using a member of the opponents family as a political tool. If Kerry's daughter had served in Iraq, it would have been wrong for Bush to say "You oppose the war the your daughter fought in!" Leave the kids out of it.

Very dirty pool

See, where I thought Kerry was going with that (and where he probably should have gone with it) was: "I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as... and I think that's why Dick Cheney, along with many people on both sides of the aisle, have opposed a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. For a long time the states have been working this issue out for themselves, and more importantly, families have been working this out for themselves. There's no need for the federal government to interfere, especially with anything as drastic as a Constitutional Amendment."

In other words, if you can tie the personal experience to the political position, that's not only fair game, it's smarter politics. I would also have been happy if somebody, anybody, had taken Bush to task for his position that homosexuals need to be treated with compassion and tolerance, but that same-sex marriages threaten "the sanctity of marriage." If all Bush's tolerance means is that he doesn't explicitly support beating gay people to death, while arguing that their existence is a profanation of all that's holy, compassionate conservatism is even thinner that it appears on paper.

But Matt's disgust for the media who took this thing and ran with it is right on. On Hardball last night, I watched in astonishment as the editor of The Nation -- The Nation! -- referred disapprovingly to Kerry's use of "the L word." Chris Matthews, to his credit, came right back: "The word he said was lesbian. There's nothing wrong with that word."

Tom, let me encourage you to do some extensive reading of Andrew Sullivan's take (linked by Matt already in the post) on the whole thing. IMHO, he makes a pretty convincing argument why this whole thing is pretty stupid.

Anyway, I predict it won't have any major effect on Kerry, except that it took the spotlight off of Bush's gaffe. The folks who can listen to the Bush campaign expressing such hypocritical outrage and take it seriously aren't voting for Kerry anyway.

By the way, Matt, missed you guys during the debate. I was stuck reading the sickeningly pure partisan drivel from Begala and Robert "Douchebag of Liberty" Novak on CNN. Both of them tried very hard to make a few reasonable negative comments on their guy, but both pretty well failed. I agree with Begala more often than not, but I missed hearing a little bit of everything.

More snark, less spin!

Sorry to abandon you, Jeremy. Robin and I were both in Oregon, entertaining some high school kiddies with a talk about the future of media (media future in short: shiny).

To respond to Tom ... Ooh! Ooh! Analogies!! Can I play?? I love this game! I can tell you're really good, seeing as how Kerry's analogue comment ("You oppose the war your daughter fought in!") resembles his actual comment ("We are all God's children, &c.") neither in substance nor in tone. But I'll do my best.

OK, so, considering Mary Cheney is "director of vice-presidential operations" for the Bush-Cheney campaign, I guess it's sort of like if Edwards' daughter was the head of, and Bob Schieffer had asked Bush if he thought PACs had the right to purchase campaign ads, and Bush said, "Well, we are all God's children, Bob. I think John Edwards' daughter Cate, for example, is doing noble work, that she's engaged with the political process," before stating that he disagreed with her group's ability to fund campaign ads.

And for even more analogy fun, I guess the context would have to be that a week-and-a-half earlier, Cheney and Edwards had met in a debate, where Cheney had taken a moment to warmly appreciate Edwards for his tactful handling of his daughter's civic engagement, and Edwards had responded with an equally warm thank-you, prompting a political firestorm of exactly zero proportions, until a week later when the Kerry campaign needed a dollop of righteous indignation to avoid having their candidate's unfortunate misstatement RE: Osama bin Laden replayed on the news the next day 24/7.

Wow. I see your point. That is some vile-ass political trash. Fie on you, Kerry! Fie!

Posted by: Matt on October 15, 2004 at 08:45 PM
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